Integrity- the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.
We hear about the importance of a person’s integrity all the time, but how does one get integrity? We are not born with integrity, we earn it. There is a quote by an unknown author that goes: “A person is not given integrity. It results from the relentless pursuit of honesty at all times.” It does not come and go, but is earned daily. Once it is lost in the eyes of others, it is rarely regained.
To me, integrity is personal, something from your soul. Most people have a sense of right and wrong. It is choosing to do right, even when it is hard. There may be consequences to doing right, but having the courage to take responsibility for your actions speaks volumes to other people. Kids and teenagers have accidents around the house all the time. When I was growing up, at our house, “It” usually did it -- be it a broken mirror or vase, a stain on the carpet, or whatever other accident occurred. No one wanted to take the blame. Over time I learned that if I fessed up to my mistakes, the punishments were usually lighter. I would also feel better about myself for being honest with my parents. This helped lay the groundwork for me learning the importance of integrity.
Oprah Winfrey said, “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” This quote reminded me a something that happened several years ago. My wife’s cousin and her family were in town from Kentucky, and we took them to spend the afternoon in Bricktown. One of the things we did that afternoon was see a movie. (I don’t remember what we saw, but I do recall that our relatives were happy to get out the Oklahoma heat, and into air conditioning). As my wife, Tonya, was walking up to the entrance, she saw something on the ground. It was a $100 bill. Without hesitation she went and turned it in to the front desk. The person who lost it more than likely never went and claimed it, and if they did, there was no way they would ever know it was Tonya who had the integrity to turn it in. I was so proud of her for the example of integrity she was to the teenagers in our group. She could have easily put the $100 bill in her pocket, went on her way and no one would have ever known. But because of her integrity, she did not hesitate and turned it in, probably not even realizing the impact of her action on the teenagers. As I noted before, integrity is personal, rarely seen in action, but when it is, it can have a lasting impact on those who witnessed the act.
Remember, having integrity is up to you. No one can make the choice for you, but choosing to live a life led by integrity can be a catalyst to helping make the world around you a better place.
David Ricks is a husband and father living in Shawnee, Oklahoma. He is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and recently retired after 28 years with UPS. His favorite past time is playing golf with friends and youngest son, Braden.